28 June, 2012

Do You Ever Live Your Books?

Most writers, I think, pull from personal experience when they write, in the form of what they've learned or a conflict they went through.

Excepting, of course, when characters do something the writer hasn't done themselves. I, for example, have had no martial arts training and can't hack a computer, despite the fact my characters seem to be fighting and breaking into digital things all the time (believe me, I don't want to do either of them).

So I wonder: Have any of you writers gone out on a limb to try something you wrote about in one of your stories? And vice versa: Anyone done something out-of-the-ordinary to see if it was worth writing about? Or have you ever heard of another author doing something like that to add realism to their writing?

-----The Golden Eagle


Heather said...

Absolutely! I started learning to speak Irish (Gaelic) while researching my historical fantasy to add depth to it. I've also tried swordsmanship and sailing for research. I love doing things like that. It adds so much to my writing!

Connie Keller said...

I do a lot of research for my novels, but aside from detail things like food I haven't actually tried what my characters have done. (I think my family would have a fit if I tried to climb down the side of a building on a handmade rope.) :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've interviewed pilots who really fly fighter jets, but no, I will never step foot in a simulator let alone a jet.

Li said...

I'm all for trying new things (except food) but I usually write something after I've done it, instead of vice versa. Interesting concept though - and as good an excuse as any to try and talk someone into going skydiving with me :-)

Christine Rains said...

I do a lot of research, and I did take martial arts in high school. One day, I might ask my friends to take me to the gun range and see what it's like to fire a gun, but that's as far as I'll go to get real experience!

Charles Gramlich said...

I think Hemingway used to do that. I've done a few things here and there, but nothing dangerous.

Beth said...

I took a dance class for one book and learned physics and drove to Oklahoma for another.

prerna pickett said...

sometimes. In my one manuscript my characters have superhuman powers, I do not. In my current WIP my mc has some hilarious Indian relations that make life a lot more interesting, which I can totally relate to.

laughingwolf said...

a few things, nothing that could kill me though, like eating some tetraodontidae... i don't care HOW good the chef, accidents happen!

M.J. Fifield said...

For some stuff, yes, absolutely, I'll do that.

But like Prerna said, some of my characters have super powers. Try as I might, I still can't leap tall buildings in a single bound...

Pearson Report said...

I would like to think that most of what I write about I have lived, whether in this lifetime or some past one.
I seem to find it easy to draw an event from the dark recesses of my mind and always feel like I've been there and done that! Rather odd, but somehow it works.

Cheers, Jenny

Donna Hole said...

I'm writing a sleeping beauty fairy tale in a sci-fi setting using loads of cyber technology and robotics. To say I'm not a geek would be a gross understatement.

My critique partners keep asking me if I'm lying about my lack of computer knowledge because of the, I'm assuming, believable technologies I'm using in the story. All thanks to my knowledgeable and geeky son, and a few other in-the-know acquaintances.

Yep; I pat myself on the back. The writing is going slow, but at least it is believable in a world setting I know nothing about.


Brinda said...

I went on a ghost tour and used some things from it to write into my 2nd book in my YA series.

Jamie Gibbs said...

I think I'll have to at some point, since most of the protagonists I tend to write about have some kind of training in herbalism and holistic medicine.

Matt said...

I have heard of a few artists who simulate something like that on a low budget just to make sure its plausible, like hacking into a computer or something of that nature. I guess it adds a little realism to reading it.

Carol Kilgore said...

A lot of writers do unique things before writing about them. I research to learn things I don't know, but the only hands on I've done specifically for a novel was to learn some martial arts and self-defense techniques.

Edith said...

I lived mostly by candlelight after sunset for about 2 years. (I had to turn on the electricity for reading to avoid eyestrain.)

Clarissa Draper said...

My one character loves coding and I have done a lot of research and stuff like that but have I ever tried spying stuff? No. But, I would love to follow a police officer around for a day.

Pat Hatt said...

No, I have never picked up a gun and tried to shoot someone, but that is probably for the better haha

Old Kitty said...

I doubt if I've ever lived even a sliver of what my characters go through in my stories! LOL!!! There are a couple of writerly bloggers I know who go through lots of action/fight training things though to re-live their MC's stories - and I am in super duper AWE of them!! take care

Humpty Dumpty said...

While I've never time traveled like my character, when I was researching my YA novel, I needed to know more about the native culture so went straight to the source. I found several elders willing to teach me a few things, such as what was involved in a Sharing Circle. I even had several Sweat Lodge experiences which I used in my story. :)

Anonymous said...

Hm, I think I'll just add everything in my novels to my bucket list. ;)

nutschell said...

Definitely. I actually started taking up martial arts classes because of my first novel.:) Research is a great excuse to try new things:)

Happy Weekend!

Misha Gericke said...

Yes I tried Western Martial Arts to get a feel for what a sword fight is like.

Got a taste for it, but don't know where I can do more.


cleemckenzie said...

I'm such a wimp, but I have been toying with visiting a swamp and taking some kind of "safe" night alligator counting tour. Hmmm. Maybe I should stick with writing things that don't scare me, but then I'm not sure the writing would be so much fun.

Rek said...

Most of my tales are based on the realities around me, a few that I have experienced.
My fantasy would involve taming a mythical bird at some point but where do I find that bird's extinct relative? :)
I don't attempt thrillers and mysteries for the simple reason - my brain isn't calculative or strategy oriented.

Anonymous said...

In one of my WIPs it was hard to connect to certain activities that I never tried before, which would be hard to come across in real life, but I used research and my imagination.

Rusty Webb said...

Well, I used to research constantly, but eventually figured out I was tricking myself out of writing. So now I write what I think, and try to fact check after the fact.

So, my dream of being a 'hard' science fiction author is pretty much out the window. I've come to terms with that though.

Rachel Morgan said...

A very interesting question. But no, since my characters are doing magic and fighting off magical creatures, that's not something I could really try out myself. Although I could go to kickboxing or martial arts lessons or something like that!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Golden Eagle .. As I don't write about characters .. but I would love to go some of the settings I write about - and probably will

I'd love to be a historian and do some research ..

Cheers Hilary

The Golden Eagle said...

Heather: That's awesome. It must have been interesting to learn so much in the process of writing your book!

Connie: LOL. Yeah, I can't imagine explaining myself if I tried jumping across rooftops.

Alex: Wow. I'll bet they had some interesting stories!

Li: I'd go skydiving with you. :) Not sure that I'll ever have the guts to get up and do it on my own, but it would be amazing.

Christine: Same here. Writers do too many things to their characters to experience everything they do. :P

Charles: Really? I didn't know that before--interesting fact!

Beth: Physics and driving to Oklahoma for the same book; I want to read that story. :)

Prerna: Wouldn't it be nice if writers had the powers of their characters! LOL.

Sounds like you have a fun family.

Laughingwolf: I don't think I'd ever eat tetradontidae, either. Though a lot of other fish seem to have toxins these days.

M.J.: Be nice if writers could, though. :P

Jenny: If it works, good for you! I'm sure feeling like you've experienced something adds authenticity to your writing.

Donna: Wow. I once wrote a flash fiction piece of sleeping beauty in a SF setting. Great minds think alike! :)

That's excellent about your story.

Brinda: Going on a ghost tour would be interesting. I'd probably freak out of I went on one, though!

The Golden Eagle said...

Jamie: That's an intriguing subject; would be cool to learn about the different methods people have used.

Matt: Having almost no extra budget here I don't think I'd even be able to do that much. :P Though I do agree that it can add realism!

Carol: I think it would be fun to take self-defense classes sometime. I use a lot of fighting in my books, so it would probably help there.

Edith: Wow. I'm impressed that you lived for so long without lights!

Clarissa: Yeah, I haven't done any spying, either; probably that's a good thing.

Pat: LOL. Who knows what might happen if the cat got hold of a weapon . . .

Old Kitty: I haven't come across any posts about authors taking action training; that's amazing. I'm in awe as well!

Humpty Dumpty: Cool. Experiencing it for yourself must have given you a lot of material to work with! :)

Madeline: LOL. Me, too.

Nutschell: It is, definitely!

Misha: I want to learn how to use a sword someday. I read about characters devleoping their skills--but what that actually entails, I have no idea.

Cleemckenzie: Night alligator hunting does sound a little scary . . . though fun as well!

Rek: There are always eagles. ;) They can be pretty mythical sometimes, especially the super-powerful ones like Harpy Eagles and Philippine Eagles.

I don't write mysteries very well for that reason, either. I've tried and the stories never worked out.

Medeia: Those can be the best resources!

Rusty: A lot of SF is based on pure speculation. It adds wonder to stories, and I've read in a lot of places that's an essential element to the genre. :)

Rachel: I'm kind of glad there are no magical creatures to fight off in reality . . . LOL.

Hilary: I'm sure you will!

That would be a fascinating job.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I try to arrange horseback rides whenever I can though I own no horses since I write medieval fantasy and there are always horses being used in battles and as transportation.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Oh man, I'd love to try out some of the things I write about! A lot of that takes money though, and I just don't have any. :( Maybe that's a good goal, though - if I ever get published, my reward will be to take a couple hours of archery lessons or something. :D

laughingwolf said...

they do indeed, ge... and WE keep poisoning them, more each year! :(

Ciara said...

I'm familiar with martial arts. I took Shotacon for a few years, my dad was a sensa. I have consulted some one for NASA about alternative energy for a book.

Paul Tobin said...

I once read an introduction to a story by Leslie Charteris author of the Saint stories where he said he had done many things in the search of accuracy-scuba diving etc. I have not, though I find that I write about places I know, thank goodness for wikipedia that gives me lots of information. I do tend to look things up but stay in my armchair rather than parachuting.

Talli Roland said...

I haven't, but I know many authors who have. I think it lends a sense of authenticity to the writing.

The Golden Eagle said...

Susan: Do you like horseback riding? I've always thought it looked fun, but I've never done it myself.

Bethany: Awesome idea. :)

Laughingwolf: Yeah. If not outright driving them extinct.

Ciara: I've never heard of Shotacon before. That's cool about your dad!

Paul: I agree. Wikipedia (and the sites it links to) can be very helpful.

Talli: Agreed!

Anonymous said...

I'm more often living life (at least in my head) like movies or tv shows. Speaking of which, I have some zombies to kill. Excuse me, won't you?

Maurice Mitchell said...

I wish! I'd be writing about superheroes and spies all day long.

The Golden Eagle said...

Joshua: By all means. Go kill those zombies!

Maurice: LOL.

One of my current projects has a lot of spies.